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Saunders proves his class at ILCA world championships

Sunday 29 May 2022, 2:52PM

By Yachting New Zealand

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Tom Saunders finished fourth at the ILCA 7 world championships.
Tom Saunders finished fourth at the ILCA 7 world championships. Credit: John Pounder

Tom Saunders was hurting after narrowly missing out on a medal on the final day of the ILCA 7 (Laser) world championships in Mexico but also excited about his ability to consistently be near the top at major regattas.

Saunders, who won the 2021 world title in Barcelona last year, went into the final day in second but dropped to fourth on the back of a 14th and 17th in racing today. It left him two points behind Croatia's Filip Jurisic, whose two second placings today saw him leapfrog a number of other contenders into third.

France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz held on to take gold, finishing 17 points ahead of two-time world champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus.

The ILCA 7 is the most competitive of the Olympic classes, with considerable depth among the fleet, so for Saunders to finish first and fourth in consecutive years shows he's tracking well towards the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"Obviously it’s going to hurt a little bit but I don’t think I can be too hard on myself," he said. "Contending for a world title on the last day is right where I want to be.

"I was pretty proud of the way I turned things around because it wasn’t an easy start to the event for me. I felt like each day I was getting a little bit better and I was definitely peaking towards the end. There are a lot of good things to take away from this event, and the two we had in Europe, and it's exciting to know I can contend in any breeze.

"It didn’t quite go my way today but I was happy with how I sailed, particularly that last race. I did exactly what I wanted to do but it was just incredibly hard to pick it out there and we just couldn’t quite get the strategy right today on the first beat. You could make it look pretty easy or make it look pretty hard and that was the way it went for me today. I gave it a good shot, so pretty proud."

Saunders will now take a break from ILCA 7 sailing after an intensive start to the year before heading to the Olympic venue in Marseille in July for a training block. His next major event will be at the test event for next year's combined world championships at The Hague in September.

Luke Deegan (87th overall) and Luke Cahmore (93rd) also completed their world championship campaigns today with their best results of the regatta, with Deegan 15th and Cashmore eighth in the only silver fleet race today.

Former world championships bronze medallist George Gautrey withdrew from the event after day two as he recovers from Covid-19.

Results and final standings after the sixth day of the ILCA 7 world championships in Mexico:

Gold fleet (63 boats)

1st: Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) (19) 3 2 3 2 2 1 4 13 14 (64 BFD) 7 - 51 points
2nd: Pavlos Kontides (CYP) (11) 8 6 2 3 1 25 (27) 1 5 5 12 - 68 pts
3rd: Filip Jurisic (CRO) 3 6 (14) 13 9 3 3 (51) 33 1 2 2 - 75 pts

4th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 (19) 12 13 4 4 1 12 3 14 (17) - 77 pts

63rd: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 23 15 (64 DNC) 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC - 431 pts

Silver fleet (63 boats)

87th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 (52) 40 38 (46) 30 16 28 37 25 15 - 271 pts
93rd: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 34 39 (40) (45) 26 36 25 37 8 - 276 pts

Full results